Chapter Four - Calling Accepted
At nights, Lulu couldn’t sleep well anymore. Whenever she fell into a slumber, she saw those vivid scenes of the human world. The massive waves submerged her, the fires of war were hot to even gaze upon, the refugees called out for aid, and the overflowing pollution hurt the environment more with each passing day. The visions constantly haunted her as nightmares she couldn’t escape.
Eventually, a day came when Lulu couldn’t stay silent about what she’d seen anymore. She went to talk to a few other animals about what she witnessed of the human world and what she was told by Gabriel. Although, she wasn’t sure how they might react.
Lulu first went to Goat, Monkey, and Rooster since they were always together.
“Please listen,” Lulu begged, “the Archangel of the Heavenly Palace came to me and told me I must serve a greater purpose for humankind, but I don’t know what to do. I saw war, ruined nature, and more…so much more.”
“What kind of joke is this, Lulu?” spat Monkey.
“Leave the jokes to Rat,” bleated Goat.
“Yes, and why would the Archangel come to you?” cooed Rooster.
“Gabriel said that each of us dominates the energy of the year named after us. It is my year,” answered Lulu, “and my energy is strongest of all the zodiac animals during this time.”
At that, disbelief clouded Monkey’s face, Goat rolled his eyes, and Rooster straightened his long back. Together, the three animals then laughed. They discounted anything they might have known about her and clearly didn’t believe the story.
Lulu scampered away and tried to convince the other zodiac animals, but everyone else had a similar reaction. They thought she was telling a horrible joke – or that she was crazy – and laughed her off as well. Soon after, Lulu fled deep into the Heavenly Palace and sighed.
“Maybe they’re right,” thought Pig.
After all, she was the last of the twelve animals and her influence over the animal circle had always been the least. Maybe it really had been a terrible dream. Besides, what could she offer to the human world? She was still just one being.
Only a single entity of choices.
At this, Lulu felt even more powerless. She doubted her destiny and was confused about the whole event. Who was she truly? Did it matter if she had no purpose or was mistaken about her placement in the Heavenly Palace?
The memories of the Great Race in her childhood came back once again. She had eaten along the way. She had stopped for a nap. She had been last. A sense of shame and fear was encroaching over her heart and mind.
Losing faith in everything around her, Lulu could only walk around the palace aimlessly. No goals came to mind. No destinations grabbed her attention. She only thought of Gabriel and the pool he led her to. Shadows warped across the walls as the hours and days churned by at a monotonous pace. Lulu couldn’t tell how much time went by and she wondered how long she had been wandering.
Somewhere inside Lulu, she knew where she wanted to be, but she couldn’t take herself to that place willingly. Her heart knew what she wanted better than she did. After an unknown amount of time faded away, she found the pool again.
When she arrived, she saw Gabriel – the Butterfly – waiting for her. The vast pool sparkled and shined when Lulu came to his side. The shallow waves resembled rolling crystals and the shore was like chiseled diamonds. Its shine mirrored the sun.
Seeing her, Gabriel smiled and said, “I’m glad to see you found your way home. I always believed you would come back to make the right decision because you are not defined by your past, nor by who you are today. You have so much potential that you’ve yet to discover within yourself. It’s time to embrace a new you.”
Lulu still wondered what he meant. “How do I do that?” she asked.
“You must go the Five Elements Garden and receive trainings there,” Gabriel answered.
“You will go through a series of trainings. These will be of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal.”
Lulu shied away from him. “But what are those elements?”
“Do not worry,” Gabriel said. “I will explain.” The Butterfly turned and with a wave of his hand, the vast pool made pictures out of floating water to help Lulu understand.
The pool’s water became extremely animated as Gabriel continued, “Wood divides the earth, just as the roots break up the rocks and soil. Earth absorbs and drinks the water. Water douses and quenches the fire. Fire melts and bends the metal. Metal finally penetrates the wood, through chopping, sawing, drilling, and so on.”As Gabriel spoke, the pictures changed. “They are the five, fundamental types of an invisible force that surrounds and connects everything. They are the directional energy flow of nature, of the human world – of the universe itself – and of everything. An easier way of understanding it is to relate these five types to how earth, metal, water, wood, and fire work in nature. Each one interdependently functions with itself and the others.”
Lulu watched as the watery pictures demonstrated each of these transformations taking place. She saw how one element restrained another in an endless cycle.
“But remember this,” Gabriel said, “they also work to support each other. Just now, I explained one of the cycles. And – hereafter – I’m going to explain the second one. Each of the two demonstrates how all these elements work together, but each one does it in a different way. Ultimately, these two cycles work together at the same time to maintain balance. Therefore, the second cycle is always about generating interactions that move everything together. We see this in the elements, which do this by fueling, forming, containing, carrying, and feeding each other.”
Lulu crooked her head, “What do you mean?”
“Listen well,” Gabriel said. “Wood fuels fire. Fire forms earth through volcanoes and falling ash. Earth contains metal. Metal carries water through pipes or in buckets. At last, water feeds wood through trees or plants, and everything continues again. This is all happening at the same time. Each one needs the others to change and support itself.”
“Can you explain it in any other way?” asked Lulu.
“Yes,” answered Gabriel. “The most important thing for you to understand is that this process is about generating interactions.” Lulu watched intently as the mystical pool slowly formed into the picture of a pregnant mother and continued to change as Gabriel kept speaking.
“Imagine the intimate connection between a mother and her baby. It begins with conception, turns into gestation, eventually leads to birth, and becomes a nurturing relationship. The same way a mother is deeply attached to her child, the different elements are intimately connected with one another and cannot truly exist without each other’s support. This is why balance is so important. Do you have a better understanding now?”
Lulu nodded and was amazed by how each element worked together, even when they were so different.
“The human world is this way too,” Gabriel added. “The planet needs these different elements to be in harmony. When there’s too much or too little of any element, there is room for disaster and decay – until a rebalance is achieved.”
Lulu wondered and asked, “But what am I to do?”
“You will absorb the energy from each of these places,” Gabriel said. “And, during the process, learn how to manage that power. Those places and that process will reflect your inner world.”
“What’s my inner world?” Lulu asked.
“Think of it as a place that is shaped by your heart and mind through your choices and behavior,” Gabriel explained. “It is a deeply spiritual place. But it is important that you know this: your environment changes as your inner world changes.”
Lulu nodded and watched as the vast pool’s watery pictures fell down like a waterfall.
“You only have 99 days to complete this trail,” said Gabriel. “Remember this – once you accept this challenge – there will be no turning back. You will have to keep going, no matter how hard the journey becomes.”
Lulu was almost overwhelmed by the responsibility again. Would she be ready this time? Could she run her own race against herself? In all honesty, Lulu wasn’t sure, but she stood tall and knew that this was what she wanted.
Gabriel smiled. “The only chance we have to change the human path is by you succeeding in this difficult challenge.”
“Where must I go to do this?” Lulu asked. “Where is the place?”
“Right over there,” Gabriel answered, “and I – your friend – will be your guide.” There was a sparkle in Lulu’s eye when she heard that.
The Butterfly then pointed to the bushes on her right side. They instantly opened like stage curtains being pulled away. Far beyond the bushes was the Five Element Garden.
The Garden rested on a mystical island of pearly sand and shimmering grass, but the waters around it were steely and dark. Strange lights appeared to dance around the land – even in the daytime – but they were imbalanced and wild. Some were divinely bright, others were slow and faint, and many more were constantly changing their form.
It was chaotic and unrestrained, but Lulu took a deep breath and joined Gabriel.
Together, they entered the bushes and marched toward the Garden.
(To be continued...)